Places in Hampshire associated with Jane Austen:





Dean Gate Inn








Winchester Cathedral

HAMPSHIRE, Hants, or the county of Southampton, is bounded on the north by Berkshire; on the east by Surrey and Sussex; on the West by Wiltshire and Dorsetshire; and on the south by the British channel and the Isle of Wight. This island is, indeed, included in Hampshire, but they will be treated of separately. The figure of this county would be pretty exactly square, were it not for a triangular projection at the south-west corner, resembling the bastion of a fortification. Exclusive of this portion, it is about forty-two miles in length, and thirty-eight in breadth. Its area, in miles, is stated at 1533, the Isle of Wight being included; and its interior division at thirty-nine hundreds. This county is considered as one of the most agreeable in England, and has from the remotest time supported a numerous population. Its surface is varied with gently rising hills, and fruitful vales and plains. The ridge of chalk hills may be traced across it, passing in the parallel of Winchester. Its air in the higher parts is clear and pure; towards the sea mild and inclined to moisture. The soil is very various, but the greatest portion of it is tending to chalk. On the Berkshire border it is generally deep and of a good staple, producing large crops of corn and fine timber. On approaching the center, the land becomes higher and more chalky, and chiefly fit for barley. On the Dorsetshire border are vast tracts of waste land covered with heath. The courses of the rivers are generally fertile meadows; and no county in England is more famous for the management of water-meadows. The products of Hampshire are fine corn, especially wheat, hops, the planting of which is of late years increased, cattle, sheep, wool, bacon, and timber. The number of sheep kept in the county is very considerable, and has been estimated at 350,000. The original Hampshire breed is horned and white-faced, but the South-down have of late years obtajried the preference, especially as they are found to fatten oil a less quantity of food. For the breed of hogs this county is particularly famous, the farmers preferring the largest kinds as the most profitable. Those which are fed in the neighbourhood of forests producing acorns and beech-mast are supposed to acquire a superior quality.

A large proportion of the timber produced in this county has been devoted to the navy, as well as to other economical purposes; and there are three different forests applied to this purpose, those of Alice Holt and Woolmer, of Bere, and of the New forest, the latter of which will again come under our consideration. The mineral productions of Hampshire are few; and those are chiefly confined to the cliffs on the seacoast. A description of those at Hordwell, containing fossil shells, will be found deposited in the British Museum.

Hampshire is watered by several rivers, some of which, rising in the north-east, soon quit the county to flow towards the Thames; but the greater number run from north to south across the county. The Avon, from Wiltshire, meandering in several channels near the western edge of the New Forest, is well-wooded in this part of its course. Below Ringwood it flows through a less interesting sandy level towards Christchurch, and having received the waters of the Stour from Dorsetshire, it carries them with it to the sea in Christchurch bay. The Test or Tese, has its origin in the neighbourhood of Whitchurch, and after passing Stock-bridge and Rumsey, and receiiing seiieral small rills from the New Forest, forms the head of Southampton bay.

The Itchen, rising in the vicinity of Alresford, takes a western course, till reaching Winchester, it turns southward, and at length empties itself into another point of the same bay.Parallel to this river, another small stream falls into the mouth of Southampton bay below Titchfield.

Hampshire has received the benefit of two canals which respectively give name to their navigations. The first of these, dated in 1778, is called the Basingstoke canal, being from that town conducted to the Wye in Surrey, as mentioned under the description of that river. It sends off a branch from the neighbourhood of Odiham northward to Turgis Green. The other is the Andover canal, taking rise from thence in 1789, and passing through Stockbridge, Rumsey, and Redbridge, till by a further cut it reaches Southampton. A branch from Salisbury opens a communication with this canal.

Text: England Described etc (1818) by John Atkin M.D.
Map: by John Cary (1797)